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Winning Without Victory

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The United States military won the war in Iraq. It looks like they have won the war in Afghanistan, too:

Finally, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Carney when was “the last time US troops in Afghanistan killed anybody associated with Al Qaeda.” Carney didn’t have an answer, and referred Tapper to the Defense Department and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

I queried those agencies Tuesday and got an answer today. According to a Defense Department spokesman, the most recent operation that killed an Al Qaeda fighter was in April 2011—ten months ago.

Remember the justification for the Declaration of War Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001:

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.


(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Mission accomplished.

The al-Qaeda factions which attacked the United States are eliminated. Al-Qaeda as an idea surely survives and has organized new factions around the world. So has communism. But the Cold War is over. So has fascism, but WWII is over. By the terms of the AUMF, the War on Terror is over.

You can’t kill an idea. You can only present a better, more attractive idea.

Military force is the cutting edge of foreign policy. A weapon is only as good as those who wield it. Tactically, the US military continues to demonstrate excellence. The geo-political minds which control it are cognitively challenged. They can’t recognize victory.

One wonders if they want to.

Like an addict who doesn’t quit because he is afraid of living without the habit, the neocons wouldn’t recognize an America not at war. Like the addict dreaming of sobriety, the ruling class hopes for peace. Peace through strength. Strength which must be demonstrated by posturing. Posturing which invites challenge. Challenge that precipitates attack. Attack that demands reprisal. Reprisal that leads to war.

The terrorist idea is to kill us. The prevailing American idea is to kill them first. It’s hard to see that one concept is much superior to the other. True, the American idea is to install democracy that protects our version of human rights. But when the majority of people do not prefer our version of human rights—as demonstrated by free-ish elections—the reasoning collapses.

Wars can be won. But a foreign policy that cannot deliver its own promise always loses. Perhaps there is an interventionist strategy that would produce more nations which honor and protect the Western, Christian version of human rights. Inside every soul is a spark yearning for liberty.

If there is a better strategy, a foreign policy that dishonors national sovereignty but truly enhances individual sovereignty, it is not part of the conversation. The Founders’ strategy, to honor national sovereignty and patiently encourage that spark in every soul, is today dismissed as “crazy”. The ruling class doesn’t trust that which it does not control.

A strategy of control is a strategy of war. Perpetual recurrent war. When there is no period without war, there is no peace. Without peace there is no strategic victory. Our troops can win whenever we deploy them. But the country always loses.

H/T: Vox Day